Wartime at Liberty's by Fiona Ford #BookReview #BlogTour

London, 1942

Flo Canning’s heart is beyond repair following the news that she has been dreading since the outbreak of war. As Flo throws herself into the role of fabric manager at Liberty’s, old and new friends alike help pull her from a whirl of despair.

Between work and home life there’s plenty to keep Flo occupied. Not least new deputy store manager, Henry Masters, whose arrival has consequences that Flo and her workmates could never have foreseen.

But there is more tragedy still to come, and Flo and her friends will need each other more than ever if they are to survive the uncertainty ahead.

It's my pleasure to be hosting the blog tour for Wartime at Liberty's today. Many thanks to Fiona Ford and Rachel Kennedy from Penguin for inviting me and for my advance copy of the novel, received through Netgalley.

Wartime at Liberty's in the third book in Fiona Ford's Liberty Girls series but the first I have read; however, it didn't take me too long to get to know the various characters and their relationships with one another and so although I'd always recommend reading the novels in order if possible, I am happy to reassure other newcomers that it's perfectly possible to start here!
The prologue of the novel shows Flo Canning and her husband, Neil having a disagreement about her singing against his wishes and then subsequently lying about it. His angry decision to return early to his ship becomes tragically heartbreaking when the storyline moves forward two months and we discover he was killed in action. Although this series is about the group of women working in Liberty's, the focus of this novel is definitely Flo with the others mostly having supportive roles here. At first she is tormented by grief and guilt, believing her husband died hating her. It's a poignant reflection on the emotional impact of wartime and the tragedy of ordinary arguments between couples resulting in almost unbearable heartbreak at times.
However, although I felt great sympathy for Flo, I must admit there were times when her decision to punish herself by turning her back on singing exasperated me. It's a credit to Fiona Ford's empathetic writing that even though it was obvious that she would eventually need to return to something so important to her, I always interested to see how and when it would happen. Most of the other characters are immensely likeable, even when they are making mistakes and I particularly enjoyed the subplot featuring sisters, Jean and Bess. There is a surprising revelation about the secret they have been keeping which gives us a fascinating and moving insight into the morals of the time.
Flo's role as fabric manager at Liberty's means she often has to support her friends and colleagues, just as they are there for her when she needs them. However, there is one character introduced here who is one of those people you can't help but love to hate. Although there is an attempt to introduce at least a small element of sympathy for what she has been through, I'm sure I won't be the only reader desperate for her downfall. In contrast, new deputy store manager, Henry Masters is a lovely addition to the series - even if he does come with secrets of his own. The end of the Blitz means most of the drama here is of the emotional kind but tragedy can still unexpectedly strike and I must really commend Fiona Ford here for her decision to include what is a desperately upsetting event which really hits hard as a sombre reminder of the dangers faced on the home front.
Wartime at Liberty's is a beautifully structured novel which allows the story to unfold gradually, slowly revealing secrets about each of the characters and although I guessed some parts, I was surprised a few times too. Fiona Ford's vibrant descriptions of Liberty's really brings the store to life and she captures the essence of the period well too. This heartwarming, uplifting story is as rich as any fabric sold in Liberty's and will be enjoyed by anybody who loves saga fiction. I'm looking forward to discovering what comes next for the Liberty Girls!

Wartime at Liberty's is published by Arrow, purchasing links can be found here but please consider ordering from an independent bookstore if possible.

Don't miss the rest of the blog tour, details are below.

About the Author

Fiona Ford is the author of the Liberty Girls series, which is set in London during the Second World War. Fiona spent many years as a journalist writing for women’s weekly and monthly magazines. She has written two novels under the pseudonym, Fiona Harrison, as well as two sagas in her own name in the Spark Girls series. Fiona lives in Berkshire with her partner.
Website  Facebook  Twitter  Instagram